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Edmonton Catholic School District apologizes for requesting school bus driver be fired

WATCH ABOVE: Extended footage of the incident that took place inside the Edmonton school bus was released by Cunningham Transport Ltd.

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Catholic School District apologized Tuesday for asking that a driver be fired for tossing a student off his school bus.

The district called for the driver’s termination by Cunningham Transport Ltd. on Sunday after a video surfaced of the incident.

But, in a post on its Facebook page Tuesday, the district said, after seeing the second video “showing an assault on the driver,” it realized it shouldn’t have requested he be fired. Edmonton Catholic said it has apologized to Cunningham Transport Ltd. and will apologize to the driver as soon as it can reach him.

READ MORE: Student threatened violence before driver threw him off school bus: company 

Edmonton Catholic School District’s full statement is:

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“The Edmonton Catholic School District is continuing our full investigation into this matter and reviewing our use of video surveillance on buses and safety protocols on the bus.

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“However, in light of the second video showing an assault on the driver, we realize we should not have requested the driver’s termination and have apologized to his employer, Cunningham Transportation Services, and will be apologizing to the driver as soon as we can reach him.

“ECSD has outlined specific expectations regarding bus driver responsibilities that are outlined in our Student Transportation Guide and include that drivers “pick-up or drop-off students only at the designated stop on the bus route,” for safety reasons. Bus drivers receive training from the bus company upon hiring and we require drivers to adhere to all protocols regarding student safety.

“The District does not in any way condone the behaviour of the two students involved in the separate incidents on the bus and the principals for both students were made aware of the situation so that they could take measures, which they have.”

On Sunday, video taken by a student on the bus showed the driver throwing the boy’s backpack out the door before shoving the student out the door as well.

WATCH: Shocking video shows child tossed off school bus before driver pulls away 

On Monday, video shot from the front of the bus and provided by Cunningham Transport Ltd., showed the events leading up to the driver’s actions.

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The video, which Global News has blurred to protect the identities of all the individuals involved, shows one student hit the bus driver in the face with a sports bag. It shows another student repeatedly hit a younger student on the bus, flip the finger to the bus driver and exchange words with him. Then, the bus driver removes him from the bus.

WATCH: The Edmonton Catholic School District is apologizing to a bus driver who was hit in the head by a student’s sports bag. As Kendra Slugoski explains, it previously requested he be fired.

Laura Doroshenko, operations manager with Cunningham Transport Ltd., said she was happy to hear the apology from Edmonton Catholic Schools.

“It takes a lot for somebody to come back and say ‘maybe we made a mistake,’ so kudos for Edmonton Catholic for doing that. It’s not easy to do.”

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She said the company has been overwhelmed by support.

She said people have been contacting Cunningham, saying “we’re glad that you didn’t fire him, it’s good to see that an employer will stand up for their employee.”

Doroshenko said the bus driver has been quite upset about the whole situation.

“He felt bad that he’s putting us through a lot of hassle and in the limelight… He’s just a really good guy and he feels bad about the whole thing.”

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The driver has been driving this week but not on an Edmonton Catholic School route.

WATCH: The story of an Edmonton bus driver forcing a student off his bus, the behaviour of the students, and how the incident is being handled has generated a huge response. Emily Mertz has more.